Playing Football in The Heart of North Korea

North Korea has been on everyone’s minds lately, and not for the best of reasons; this highly isolated Asian country has had a bad reputation for quite some time now thanks to its harsh dictatorship rule. This reclusive country has accelerated its weapons development for over 6 years now and it is now coming closer and closer to becoming a fully-fledged nuclear power, which is a pretty bad development for the rest of the world since North Korea has been causing a lot of political tension with its rising nuclear threat.

Now, not many people know this but North Korea does focus on other exploits that are not military, in fact the country has a pretty developed football team that has been regarded as one of Asia’s strongest football teams. North Korea even has its own football stadium in its capital, Pyongyang where football matches are held on an occasional basis. Sadly, North Korea’s football programme has been facing a decline recently due to the country having an unstable footing on the world map, a great example of how North Korea’s progressing weapons programme is making things harder for its football industry can be seen in its latest match with Lebanon’s international team.

A match was scheduled between North Korea’s The Chollima (their football team that is named after a mythical creature) and Lebanon’s international team recently took place in North Korea’s Pyongyang football stadium. Many Lebanese players were already uneasy about travelling to North Korea due to the fact that this country could turn into the starting point of an all-out nuclear war. However, despite their uneasiness they still ventured into the country since for many of the Lebanese players, this match with North Korea could be a turning point in their careers.

To make matters more unnerving for the Lebanese team, they had next to no access to the internet throughout their stay and could not contact their families at all, North Korea tends to keep a tight leash on any foreigners who pay them a visit. Once the already nervous Lebanese players had settled down in their hotel rooms and were finally beginning to relax, they found out that North Korea had conducted yet another Hydrogen bomb test, their only source of information being a single TV channel. Naturally, this news led to the players believing that nuclear Armageddon was looming on the horizon.

Political unease has definitely made international sports a bit tricky for North Korea, but this has not stopped the country from making an effort in keeping their sports active, ever since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2012, there has been a lot of emphasis on developing the country’s football talent. Kim Jong Un seems to have a special love for football, this can be seen in the many pro football measures that he has taken, and currently, North Korea’s female football team is valued much more than its male football team due to the fact that it has been much more successful.